Dear Reader,

Exploration and Innovation have previously been the domain of Universities and Governments marshaling their collective resources.  How does humankind’s drive to colonize Mars in the digital media age take shape?   In the form of a reality show.   Yes, you heard right, Reality show.

It is possible to think that television has been lost in the sea of digital media, but apparently not.   From its inception, television has been leveraged to communicate, bring us together as a digital society, and socially engineer our future selves.   Presidents became closer to mainstream America, we share entertainment, atumblr_mqxvemvpsO1r01w8mo4_1280 (2)nd we witness events as a nation. We all held our breath while Apollo 13 was clinging tenaciously to life.  Broader still, other countries share our adventures into television media.  Although television now has rivals in the Internet, Cell Phones, and Tablets, television has grown to be a dominant force in our global community.

Television with the onset of reality programming has provided  Mars One‘s entrepreneur,  Bas Lansdorp, with the means to finance his dream of colonization of Mars.  Mars One is a non-profit organization working towards the goal of colonizing Mars with the first four people by 2023.   Working within our current technology, Bas, is currently seeking volunteers to go on a one-way trip to Mars.   If anyone ever told you to “Get Lost!” this is the way to do it.

As immediate as 2016, the project will be capable of unmanned demonstration.  The Mars One website showcases a complete list of FAQ’s including the business model, cost of the project, and its feasibility.  Its creator has managed to recruit an incredible amount of support including a Nobel Prize winning theoretical physicist, and world-wide suppliers for all the technical resources they will need.

The Journal of Cosmology said, “…, to attain it [an outpost on Mars] would require not only major international cooperation, but a return to the exploration spirit and risk-taking ethos of the great period of Earth exploration, from Columbus to Amundsen, but which has nowadays been replaced with a culture of safety and political  correctness.” in an article exploring the proposal in 2010.   That article goes on to analyze the potential challenges faced in such a venture.

NASA’s footage of Mars Moons passing each other from the Mars surface is beautiful.   There are individuals willing to take the risks involved in a one-way trip to Mars to be able to witness this firsthand:

This will be an epic media event.   mars-one-childrens-t-250The entire worldwide community will watch these events unfold.   Bas Lansdorp has thought of everything.  Where would any pop media event be without T-Shirts?


NewDirectionsInSensoryDeprivationDear Reader,

I often wonder what the introspection of a 20-somthing in the technology age looks like.  Lindsey Arsenault realizes the experiences of life provided by technology pale in comparison to those experienced in reality put her reflections in a recent blog post.  She coined the phrase, “Sensory Deprived Existence” while reflecting on the place of technology in her life.   As an artist, she is a self-proclaimed “raw emotion addict”.   Perhaps its the drive for experience that reinforces the dichotomy of real vs. virtual to her.

40sAs a 40-something adult who remembers rotary dialing telephones and 3 tv networks, technology is not foreign to me; but I conceptualize life as defined by real interactions with people.   When I was 20-something; life consisted of time with friends, family, and real experiences.  For myself, technology is merely a supplement to enhance relationships and my journey through life.   Its a tool not an end of itself.  Even so, there are times that the sensory-deprived existence threatens to encroach on the fullness of days lived out among others.   How often have I been guilty of saying “yes” to the sensory-deprived existence when my love of all things digital takes over?  Saying Yes to a Sensory Deprived Existence.


cloud-computing (2)Dear Reader,

I remember when the internet was on college machines, text-based only, and you could go get a cup of coffee while your conversations scroll up the screen at 1200 symbols per second (baud).  At the University of Rhode Island, if Brown U was down so was URI.   Human nature then was what it still is today.   Remove all the flash and dazzle of parallax scrolling, quad core computing and terabytes of information, and you still have people at the heart of the machines.

So it came as no surprise to me that people tried to hack each other’s accounts, tried to phish for information, blackmailed others, took down servers, or otherwise tried to commit mayhem on a digital scale.  Technology was advancing, not human nature.  The thing with technology crimes is that generally they require more intelligence than a hit-and-run robbery making the criminals more difficult to catch.

For quite aimagesCAMYXG9Nwhile,  I believed the cloud culture to be more fluff than fact – inherently prone to data break-in and server crashes resulting in data loss and unreliable services.   Something for large companies to take risks with for business needs and  Cloud Computing News has extensive articles examining ideas crucial to businesses in the cloud.   Then I got a smart phone.   Between the phone and my home computer, the value of the cloud became apparent.  For a techy, I’m a bit of a latecomer to the cloud.   However, coordinating across devices IS a problem without the cloud.   Some have USB ports, some don’t.  Some are not compatible with others or your friends’ or colleagues’ machines.   He has an Apple … you have a PC ..  they have a Galaxy …   You have an Android tablet … and so it goes….

Apple has iCloud to coordinate, but it doesn’t play well with others – if at all.   To be honest, as I’m becoming more than passing acquaintances with my iPad I’m wondering how Apple gained the popularity it did.  (Anyone feel free to comment here on their behalf)  You can barely multitask, there are bugs just as with any other piece of equipment, and the security is a poor step-child to PC security.

PCs have a variety of cloud applications to coordinate – DropBox, EverNote, and software to create and run your own personal cloud Tonido.

As time has gone by since I’ve been active on the internet, I have realized that the amount I’ve been hacked has been extremely scarce.   One of my accounts was hacked and spamming friends.   I changed the password and solved the problem.   That was it.   Any viruses I caught was from downloading torrents.   I grew tired of repeatedly fighting off viruses especially after I caught a rootkit.  However, its under my control.   Run a good KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAvirus protector, create complex passwords, don’t put identifying information on the internet such as social security numbers, birthdates, and the like and you will most likely be fine.

So the old girl has learned new tricks.   I’m a fan of the Cloud after all.  I may even work to set up my own Cloud for fun.


images (3)Dear Reader,

Is social media the devil in disguise?

The ills of Facebook are legendary – the lack of privacy, cyber bullying, and abuse of personal information for sales.  Whether you are a fan of social media or not, it has become a part of our culture.

Media, social or otherwise, has long been controversial.   The US Constitution guarantees the freedom of the press in the First Amendment established in 1791.   The freedom of the press was universally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948.   There have also been laws passed to prohibit abuses of these freedoms – libel being the most noted example.   The press has had some notable influence in the United States when the “checks and balances” system has suffered.  The rise of Joseph McCarthy to almost unassailable power in post-Nazi America in the ’50s was checked by Edward R. Murrow who pioneered broadcast journalism when television was new.   Murrow, on his show “See It Now” exposed McCarthy when the formal processes failed.

Like Edward R. Murrow with the use of new technology, will we allow social media to form us or will we form social media to our needs and best interests?

So what are the advantages of Facebook?   Among other things, my friends who regularly post to my wall are all media-savvy and I stay more up-to-date on the news than before.   I have found long-lost high school and college friends and I’m once again involved in their lives.   I keep up with my brother’s children who are all grown and leading their own lives now.   I keep up with distant family members as well.   Social media, like any other instrument of communication, is what you make of it.   I do not post anything on Facebook I do not wish to be public knowledge.   I take Facebook as the poor man’s advertising.   Your web personality is reflected in your posts.   No one can expect the cyber community to cyber-revolution-FINAL“know who I am” unless they make it clear.  The responsibility for one’s communication with the cloud community is on the individual.

The positive use of social networking is overwhelming – advances to business, professional networking, following trends, in addition to the aforementioned connection with friends and family.   Entire websites have come up to help people promote positive social change including Idealist and  Change.Org among a plethora of others.   The fact is that social good far outnumbers social bad.   The bad just attracts better headlines.

This post would not be complete without covering the topic of cyber bullying.  Cyber bullying iscyberbullying-2 an extension of bullying that has gone on forever.  Sadly, human nature has not advanced with technology and headlines love attention-getting stories.  “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”  was coined in the mid 1800s regarding this phenomenon.  How many of the headlines regarding cyber bullying go on in real life?  And are we giving it undue attention?  Cyber bullying will probably always exist in some form as real-life bullying has always existed.   Extensive measures have been taken to counteract this problem and will continue.

The challenges for the modern world really haven’t changed.   Employ critical thinking when absorbing information.   Is something shock journalism or serious journalism?  How accurate are the news stories being published and by what source?   What agenda drives the information?  Buyer beware.


mobile256Dear Reader,

Its mind-boggling. Operating systems, devices, apps… all vying for our attention and all declaring their superiority over the competition. So which one is the best? Yes.

I came at this backwards. I never saw the point in apps on my phone and my first-ever app device was my new pc. The touch capability was revolutionary for me more than any perceived advantage to apps.  I purchases a smart phone just to remain current with technology  and I was quickly won over.  The advantages became really apparent. newspapers, email, twitter, LinkedIn, freelance work while commuting for work.  It totally depends on your particular needs / wants for technology.  Competition and customer preference have created a fairly level playing field.  Hopefully this post will give you a starting point.

If you know what your uses and price point are can really help. Do you live more mobile or stationary? Heavy keyboard user or total touch? Cell phones are an awesome device because you have your phone and a lot of interactive capability. However, as large as the Samsung Galaxy gets, you are still looking at a total screen size of approximately 5″ x 2.5″. Text can still become fairly microscopic on a device like a phone — not to mention the restriction of typing.

Next up is a tablet. The downside? No phone calls. The upside, much bigger screen and some have optional keyboards you can buy. They are great for productivity and possibly game play, but they are not a full-fledged laptop. Tablets and some cell phones can cost as much as laptops. Is the lack of functioning worth the portability?

Another factor to consider is the aggravating pre-installed apps that you would prefer to remove from your Android or Apple device and you can’t. You can on a Microsoft device. Also, Windows Phone won Endgadget Reader’s Choice of the Year.

Ease of use? iPad has it, but so does Windows.

As offensive as it is to Apple who innovated the touch interface and apps, currently Windows can do more. I now own an iPad and an Asus tablet. The iPad apps are better developed than Windows. Additionally, the iPad seems to handle open apps and retain state better than Windows 8 or RT. Since its better for the machine to close apps this is a minor inconvenience to me. However, for productivity, I still prefer Windows. I can close any Windows app by the swipe of a finger. On my MAC I have to click buttons and the screen for quite some time. 800px-Cuddling_with_multiple_devices (2)On my Windows tablet I can go to previous internet pages by the swipe of a finger. MAC still relies on back browser buttons. I have both a delete and a backspace key on my PC. Not so on the MAC — and since I am an intensive typist this is not such a minor inconvenience. On my MAC I lack convenient “end” keys to jump around quickly.  And Windows still multitasks better than a MAC. I’m writing this blog post on my iPad in the WordPress app. I am previewing the post and trying to test the links to see if the work. My device is not opening a web browser for me when I tell it to. Not really useful.  I wound up completing this post on my PC.

Regardless of the device, if you are a multi-device user, coordinating over the cloud becomes a factor. Which app to use? Total personal preference. The same apps are available on all devices including DropBox, EverNote, SkyDrive and Google.   I already had a DropBox account from a volunteer event so it was natural to use that for my own needs.

Whether you are a Mac or PC fan, hopefully this will give you enough information to make an informed decision — or point you in the right direction for your personal needs.

 


imagesDear Reader,

The 10 Best-Kept Secrets of being a woman in the technical field:

  1. You have the freedom to be as independent as you want to be.
  2. We struggle with the same challenges as men.  It’s NOT always because we are women.
  3. We CAN all get along.   We DO understand teamwork.
  4. We get to create our identities — it hasn’t been done before.  We are the pioneers and we are the creator of dreams.
  5. Playing with computers is fun.
  6. We are as smart as men — and they don’t mind us being so.
  7. We are treated equally as men when we work hard.
  8. We are paid equally when we ask for what we are worth.
  9. No one cares how pretty or plain we are.
  10. And the best kept secret of all… No line at the ladies’ room!   The men have to wait!

bill-shockDear Reader,

I wound up switching from an unrestricted Internet Provider to a restricted plan because I needed a better connection.   For the first time I encountered datashock.   Once I called up my provider and increased my data for the month, I had to figure out which device was the guilty party and how to manage my errant devices.  For those of you who don’t know data-saving tactics, here is a brief run-down:

  1. Close all your apps. If they are left running in the background they will use data while you are not watching.
  2. For a machine running Windows 8, you can set your metered data settings. Tutorial available here.
  3. Windows 8 also has a built-in function to show estimated data use.  Pull up your networks in the charm bar, right click your network and show data use :Screenshot (19)
  4. For Mac users, its a bit more elusive.  Groovin’ on apps wrote a great post here.
  5. There are a couple free apps in the Apple store Mac users can download to monitor data usage including Onavo:

Screenshot (20)

  1. Make sure apps are not updating automatically if possible.
  2. Video streaming of any kind is your worst enemy.
  3. Make good use of public networks if possible.  Now is the time for a coffee shop or restaurant with free wifi.   The price of the meal is less than your data plan.

Happy surfing!